This is a guest blog post by our Campus Ambassador Emily Haley, from Elon University.
Between comforting tearful homesick campers, caring for broken-hearted tweens at the sock hop, or having to physically witness each of your campers slather on sunscreen, being a camp counselor can be one of the most draining jobs you will ever hold. While taking responsibility for a cabin full of nuggets is no easy feat, you can expect to unveil the most authentic version of yourself and test your abilities to lead others. Being a camp counselor may not always be glamorous, but here is how it will make you a better leader:
COMMUNICATING EXPECTATIONS. Being able to communicate your expectations to your campers is required daily, if not hourly. “Before we get back in our canoes, I need everyone to put their life vests on and leave all the live animals here!”
FLEXIBILITY. It’s raining outside, another cabin is occupying the tie-dye station, and your kids are getting fidgety. As a camp counselor you have to be flexible in your schedule, and be able to think on your feet and be able to spontaneously break into a game of assassins.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE. If you want your campers to jump into a chilly lake for their swim test or consume questionable camp food, you should probably jump in with them and smile while eating your fish sticks.
LOGISTICS. It is imperative to think through logistics well in advance so your campers are not twiddling their thumbs while you’re running around camp trying to find markers, speakers, or horses for your trail ride. Additionally, having a fanny pack filled with sunscreen, Band-Aids, inhalers, and EpiPens is pretty much mandatory.
RISK MANAGEMENT. As a counselor, you develop danger goggles, consistently assessing your surroundings for anything that could harm your children. Whether you are making sure the weak swimmers stay in the shallow end or explaining the importance of wearing shoes in the woods, a counselor will do anything to protect their children from ending up in the nurse’s cabin.
BALANCE. Everyone wants to be the fun counselor but nobody wants to be the counselor that gets in trouble because his or her kids jetted off unsupervised with a camp motorboat. Finding the balance between keeping your kids safe while also receiving friendship bracelets at the end of the week is something to strive for.
Whether you are dressing your campers in all black to prank the boys cabin, blasting Katy Perry’s Firework and simultaneously having a dance party while setting the entire mess hall, or giving love advice to 11-year-olds whose love lives are far more complicated that yours, you will not only learn how to be an effective leader, but have the time of your life doing it. So if you have another summer to complete your internship before you graduate, I recommend consider being a camp counselor this summer.